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You're probably washing your hands all wrong, says a study

    Abdulaziz Sobh
    By Abdulaziz Sobh

    Categories: Health


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    Hand washing seems simple enough, but a recent study shows that 97% of the time we still do it wrong, which can lead to contamination of food and surfaces and cause foodborne illness.
    The study by the US Department of Agriculture UU It shows that most consumers did not wash their hands and rubbed with soap for 20 seconds. That's the amount of time recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which says washing for shorter periods means fewer germs are eliminated.
    "Numerous" study participants also did not dry their hands with a clean towel.
    The study involved 383 people at six test kitchen facilities in the Raleigh-Durham metropolitan area of ‚Äč‚ÄčNorth Carolina and rural Smithfield, North Carolina, the USDA said.
    Poor handwashing practices led to cross-contamination, the study found. About half the time, the participants spread the bacteria to the spice containers while preparing the hamburgers, and 11% of the time, they spread the bacteria to the refrigerator handles.
    "You can not see, smell or feel bacteria," said Carmen Rottenberg, interim assistant secretary for food safety at the USDA. "By simply washing your hands properly, you can protect your family and prevent bacteria from contaminating your food and key areas in your kitchen."
    The results of the USDA study indicate that our handwashing habits may be getting worse. A study conducted in 2013 by Michigan State University found that only 5% of people washed their hands correctly.
    So, what is the correct way to wash your hands? The CDC has some advice, starting with an obvious step: wet your hands with clean, running water.
    Step 2: After wetting your hands with water, turn off the tap and apply soap.
    Step 3: Soap your hands by rubbing them with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails.
    Step 4: Rub your hands for at least 20 seconds. (Sing the alphabet song once or "Happy birthday" twice).
    Step 5: Rinse your hands well with clean running water.
    Step 6: Dry your hands with a clean towel or seal them in the air.
    A separate study published this month found that 49 of 100 towels tested showed growth of bacteria normally found in or on the human body. That included E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus, often called "Staphylococcus."
    Bacteria were more likely to be found in wet towels and towels used for more than one purpose, such as cleaning countertops and utensils and drying hands, according to the study, conducted by researchers at the University of Mauritius.
    Washing hands correctly is one of the easiest ways to avoid foodborne illnesses, which make 48 million Americans sick each year, according to CDC estimates. That results in approximately 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.